Why the Algarve Should Be on Your Bucket List
Portugal is currently one of the hottest destinations in Europe. Although the country is enjoying an economic boom, it’s still possible to travel around the country with an Eastern European budget. To make the most of it, you need to go beyond Lisbon and enjoy the relaxed pace of the Algarve, the country’s southernmost region.
It’s quite easy to fall in love with the Algarve’s incredible beaches, delicious food, and never-ending sunny days. It’s no wonder the region is a famous expat hub as no one wants to leave once they get a taste of it.
The Algarve’s landscape is somewhat similar to its neighboring Mediterranean towns in Southern Spain and France. The region is extremely arid, but along the coast, you’ll find impressive high cliffs above turquoise-blue beaches.
The best course of action is to rent a car or motorcycle, so you can visit every little beach or cove. And if you feel like having an adventure, go on a boat tour, so you can travel under the cliffs and possibly see dolphins and whales.
Most coastal towns around the world tend to have an easygoing approach to life — especially if they enjoy hot weather. It’s no different for those that reside in the Algarve, which seems to take everything in their stride.
At the beach, you might see some locals going for their afternoon swim, a daily jog, or just reading a book while they wait for another tremendous sunset. In town, people will be drinking beers sitting outside as they talk with friends, quietly observing the passers-by.
Great Surf Spot
Unlike other Mediterranean cities, the Algarve is touched by the Atlantic Sea. As such, it offers awesome waves to the delight of foreign and local surfers. You’ll find the best waves on the west side of the Algarve.
Fresh Fish and Seafood
Your trip won’t be complete unless you take some time to savor the local dishes. Due to its proximity to the sea, the traditional dishes of the Algarve are mainly seafood and fish.
Don’t go home without trying Cataplana de Mariscos, a seafood platter made with squids, clams, white wine, tomatoes, and herbs. Another favorite is Bacalhau à Bras, which is salted cod fried with potatoes, onions, scrambled eggs, and black olives.
300 Days of Sun a Year
If you’re still not convinced that you should definitely give the Algarve a try, it’s important to note that the region sees at least 300 sunny days a year. So, you can visit any time of the year and have a high likelihood of sunny weather waiting for you.
Cute Little Villages
As soon as you move away from the capital Faro or super touristic Albufeira, it seems like you instantly travel to the past and find little fishing villages stuck in time. It’s a mix of cobbled narrow streets, charming architecture, and welcoming locals.
If you’re heading to eastern Algarve, the highlights are Santa Luzia, Cancela Velha, and Cabanas de Tavira. To the west, you should pay a visit to Alvor, Burgau, and Aljezur.
One thing you don’t have to worry about when you travel around the Algarve is your personal safety. Violent crimes are unheard of and the odd pickpocketing might only happen during the high season in busy areas.
However, that’s not to say you shouldn’t be careful. Unfortunately, there are reports of visitors dying due to the strong undertows or by jumping off cliffs. As such, it’s important to pay attention to any red flags and be sure there are no hidden rocks if you plan to dive headfirst.
Intense Night Life
Don’t think for a second that you can only enjoy your days in the Algarve. When the sun sets, the night is very much alive. Like many Mediterranean destinations, the region is a magnet for young people looking for wild parties.
The Strip in Albufeira is the most famous nightlife hub, with lots of bars and discos open until late in the night. However, you can find equally body-shaking parties in other big cities along the coast, such as Portimão and Faro.
It’s no surprise that a cheap place with amazing beaches would attract so many families. Many people tend to go to the all-inclusive resorts as they can relax at the swimming pools while their children can wreak havoc in safety.
Another exciting activity for the little ones is the big water parks dotted around the region. They can spend all their energy sliding down water slides and splashing about in the many different swimming pools. You could also take them to the Zoomarine to have a first-hand encounter with sea animals like dolphins and seals.
If you thought the Algarve couldn’t get any better, the region produces plenty of wine. So, make sure you reserve a day to go on a wine tasting tour in one of the many wineries available.
The best wineries and vineyards include:
- Adega do Cantor;
- Monte da Casteleja;
- Quinta da Tôr;
- Quinta de Mata-Mouros;
- Quinta do Francês, and;
- Quinta dos Vales.
If you, for some reason, you decide you’ve had enough of the gorgeous beaches, remember you can always explore the mountains of the Algarve. In fact, there are several different hikes around the famous Serra de Monchique that you can go on.
On a clear day, if you climb Fóia, the highest peak at 902 meters, you can even see Cabo São Vicente. The hike can take up to four hours, but the incredible views will more than make up for it.